MARTHA LAYNE COLLINS, governor of Kentucky from 1983 to 1987, has been a trailblazer for women in government, education and business. When elected, Collins was the only female governor in the nation. She was the first in Kentucky and first in the South elected in her own right. While governor, she appointed a record number of women to administrative offices. In 1984, she chaired the Democratic National Convention.
Collins was responsible for the creation of record jobs and investments and was instrumental in bringing Toyota Motor Manufacturing to Kentucky. While criticized for offering Toyota $147 million in incentives, today the company's investment in Kentucky is $3.4 billion. In addition, the Toyota plant helped attract over 90 Japanese companies to Kentucky.
Collins is credited with the passage of a $300 million education reform package, a significant accomplishment on its own, which also paved the way for the landmark Kentucky Education Reform Act in the next administration.
Her public service career began in 1971with the gubernatorial campaign of Wendell Ford. She was elected clerk of the Supreme Court of Kentucky in 1975. Collins went on to successfully run for lieutenant governor where she served as both vice-chair and chair of the National Conference of Lieutenant Governors.
After leaving the Governor's office, Martha Layne Collins served as president of St. Catharine College for six years, as the Executive-in-Residence at the University of Louisville's School of Business, and as the Director of the International Business and Management Center at the University of Kentucky's Carol Martin Gatton College of Business and Economics. Governor Collins was a Harvard University Fellow in the John F. Kennedy School of Government at the Institute of Politics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1998, Governor Collins became Executive Scholar in Residence at Georgetown College, Georgetown, Kentucky, where she developed the Center for Commerce, Language and Culture.
Also in 1998, she chaired the Commission on the Future of the South, a group sponsored by the Southern Growth Policies Board which meets every six years to report on the state of economic and social progress in the Southern states.
Collins is recognized throughout the country as a leading expert in international business, especially in the area of Japanese-American business relations. She travels regularly to Europe and Asia and develops trade programs. Active in civic, community and professional organizations, Collins is a director of R.R. Donnelley and Sons, Co., Bank of Louisville, Eastman Kodak Co. Inc. and a member of the Advisory Board of the Norfolk Southern Corporation.
In 2003, Governor Collins was the recipient of the First Annual World Trade Centers Association (WTCA) World Trade Day Book of Honor Award for the state of Kentucky. This award is presented to a company or individual in recognition of exemplary contribution to advancing peace and stability through trade. The year 2004 marked a new direction for Governor Collins when she was invited to join the staff of the Kentucky World Trade Center as the new Chair & CEO. She stepped into this role officially in January 2005.